Welcome To Neutral Good

Hey everybody. It’s been a while around here, but today felt as good as any day to resurrect the old blog. It’s been dead a long time, I know. The last two years have been full of the same old stuff – lots of Star Wars, LARPing, movies, dad things. It’s been kind of chaotic, and with everything going on around here, the blog just didn’t feel like a priority anymore.

But now I’m back, shouting into the void of the internet once more. I don’t know how long this will continue or whether this might just be a one-off post, dashed off in a fit of boredom, but here we are. Let’s do this.

So I guess I should maybe spend some time talking about what everybody else is talking about – the last season of Game of Thrones. It starts this Sunday, and I’ll probably end up watching it even though I’ve developed some rather complicated feelings toward the whole enterprise.

THIS IS A SPOILER ALERT. Don’t read past this point if you don’t want spoilers, even though honestly, you’ve had two years since the last season to get caught up, so I don’t think you get to complain about spoilers now.

So here’s my thing with Game of Thrones. The show is visually stunning, no doubt about that. But once they outpaced the book material, they lost Martin’s guiding hand, and it shows. Martin feels really strongly about showing readers that sometimes, getting what they want isn’t a good thing and that sometimes, the bad things that happen are never avenged. There’s an important realism, nuance, and subtleness to that, and more significantly, it shows a respect for his readers as complicated human beings capable of understanding and processing challenging things.

But the show writers seem to have missed all that. Once they chewed up the last of the material from A Feast for Crows and wandered off into their own interpretation of how the story should end, we see them starting to pander to the fans. Whether it’s Arya’s execution of the Frey family or Ramsay Bolton’s grisly and appropriate death, the major events lack nuance. They’re just for gratification.

Look, I admit it, it feels good. I love seeing the bad guys get their just deserts and the good guys come out on top. That’s satisfying. It’s also not how the world works, and one of the things so many of us treasure about these stories is their realism. Part of that realism undoubtedly comes from their roots in the 15th-century Wars of the Roses, where Martin drew a lot of inspiration. If ever there were a case where almost nobody was really good or evil, bad deeds often went unpunished, and good deeds weren’t always rewarded, this is it.

Maybe the show runners have something up their sleeves for this last season that will restore my faith in their ability to treat the world as a complicated place with multi-faceted people and unjust outcomes. Maybe. I’m not holding my breath.

All of this makes it seem like I’m really down on the show, but truly, I’m not. I’ve enjoyed watching it so far (well, maybe with the exception of Season 5, which was a real slog), and I’m looking forward to seeing how it ends. I want to know who lives, who dies, who triumphs, and who receives justice.

I’ve been thinking hard about who ends up taking the Iron Throne, and while I don’t have a strong feeling about who it is, I have some thoughts about who it’s not. I don’t think it’s Jon or Daenarys, because either of those results would just be too tidy and too easy. Not even Weiss and Benioff would go for such low-hanging fruit. Cersei won’t be staying on the throne, either. She’s too much of a loose cannon and she’s going to make a misstep son. Could it be Sansa? Maybe, but I don’t see her returning to Kings Landing any time soon.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about who’s going to make it out alive when all is said and done. I don’t think all the surviving Stark kids are going to make it, but I’m not sure which one we’ll lose. At least one Lannister will be gone, possibly two, maybe even all three (it would be satisfyingly poetic to see the Lannister line wiped out, which is why I wouldn’t put it past Weiss and Benioff to do it). Either the Hound or Brienne is going to have to die at some point, too. Grey Worm? I hope not, but the fact that I hope he makes it out alive almost certainly means he’s doomed.

In the lead-up to the premiere on Sunday, I’ve been reviewing old clips and reading summaries to make sure I remember the important things I should remember. It’s been a weird trip down memory lane. Strange to watch the Stark kids grow up before our eyes on tv, strange to see how many people have come and gone and nearly been forgotten, strange to see what could have been done with some characters and wasn’t (Lady Stoneheart, we hardly knew ye).

Regardless of my complicated feelings about the show, it’s certainly taken on quite the cultural significance over the last almost-decade. I’ve heard coworkers drop references to the show without even realizing that’s what those words were. I’ve seen Thrones-branded merchandise big and small. I’ve nearly bought some of it myself. It will be strange to have this show end in just a few weeks after playing such an outsized role in our cultural conversation for so long.

I’ll try to post something here once it’s all over and I’ve had a moment to sort my thoughts. It will be interest to go back at the end and see which of my predictions were accurate and which were way off the mark. Until then, I guess I’d better stock up on popcorn, get out my most comfortable pants, and settle in for a long premiere – the episodes are running long this season.

A lot of my time was spent watching TV and the other time was spent lounging around the house. One exciting thing that did happen was we had a bunch of trees fall in our backyard and we got as far as needing to hire Tree Service Buffalo to come remove it. Luckily they were extremely nice and did a great job.